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Getting this trip off the ground was a little testing as American airlines have been experiencing "financial difficulties" in recent months due to Terrorist threats and the recent SARS outbreak. Route changes meant we ended up overnighting in Chicago, before flying to Miami then Freeport on Grand Bahama. Anyway, we eventually made it to our "luxurious" accomodation in the Ocean Reef Yacht Club

http://www.oryc.com/home.html

near to Lucaya, where we had three x three bedroom villas to ourselves with our own pool just 10 mtrs from the patio doors.

We have done this trip before and have always dived with UNEXSO

http://www.unexso.com/

who have been going for ages (nearly 30 years I think) However, there have been a number of management changes and they are not the same slick diving operation they once used to be. Despite the fact that we only required a boat a skipper as we know all the local dive sites, they were unprepared to drop their prices for our large group so we dived with Fred Riger of Grand Bahama Scuba,

http://www.grandbahamascuba.com/

which was great really, because his operation is centred at the very place we were staying - Ocean Reef Yacht Club. So each morning we simply had to walk across the car park to our boat.

Fred and his helpful assistant Jade, made us very welcome and provided us with weight belts and 12 ltr cylinders for each of our dives. Most of us booked 20 dives over our two week stay, with some electing to take only 10 as they had to shere parenting responsibilities (kids came too).

The diving was superb. 27 degrees water temperature meant shorties were the order of the day. We dived some beautiful reefs, Pigmy caves under the coral, wreck like the Badger, pretender, Hippys and the inevitable Theos Wreck which lies on her side in 32 mtrs of water next to the edge of a 2,500 ft drop off. A new wreck  - The Sea star - which was sunk about a year ago lies in 28 mtrs of water, upright and with all areas of accomodation and engine room accessible. A truely memorable dive, which we repeated on two more occasions.

Theos Wreck was repeated twice also, one being our night dive. That night dive simply blew the minds of those that have not done it before. A massive ship, with dozens of huge parrot fish making it their bedroom, only to have a marauding crew of Scousers lighten their darkness with our lamps and video lights. We decended the line to the bow, dropped into the forward hold and discovers shoals of grunts and yellow tails hiding in the corners, a spiney lobster ventures out to see what all the fuss is about, safe in the knowledge that he was out of season!!?? Moving aft towards the bridge a large green moray weaved his way out of his lair under the bridge to see if we had any food - no chance, the diet was on hold until we got back home. Moving round the bridge we entered a large hole cut in the deck just behing the Bridge, direct into the engine room. Not quite cathederal size, but big enough for two divers to swim side by side. Then take a right turn, drop down to a lower level inside the engine room then rise up and exit the hull through a square hole cut in the side of the ship precisely for that purpose. Dropping down to the bronze prop, which is now covered with fire coral, we moved around the rear of the ship and ascended to a shallower depth to minimise our decompression (This was our third dive of the day) Below us passed another group of our divers, who were just about to enter the engine room. Moving on now, along the companionway, back to the bow and the ascent line, we were astounded by the amount of plancton / crill / worms attracted by our light - great fun was had by shining a torch on Steves head to have thousands of the blighters wriggling into his hair. He went berserk when he saw the video!!

UNEXSO have stopped feeding sharks at Shark Junction, leaving only Zanadu Divers to feed twice a week.  GB Scuba don't feed them either but Fred set up a replica dive on two occasions which saw three or four good sized Carribbean Reef Sharks surround us for about half an hour along with some enormous Grouper and Snapper.

All in all a great holiday whichj we will be repeating next year about the same time. Costs worked out at about £750 a head for accomodation and flights, with food and diving on top of that. Cost of living is reasonably expensive, as most things have to be brought to the island. Baing late April, early May, temperatures were a pleasant 85 - 90 degrees. There may be spare places next year so if anyone is interested drop me a line.

Regards

Geoff
 

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Thanks for the nice report, Geoff. You obviously had a very good trip.
 

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Geoff,

Thanks...sounds as though you had a stunning time. Surely you can normally manage 40-45 dives on a two week holiday..or were you an unlucky parent?

When you talk of cost at 750 each for the accom, how would you rate it I would imagine it would be good...but how much is the diving...if I'm doing 3-4 dives a day, including nights and extended range and depth dives (can they cater for that)? Also, can you advise on currents as that's the one thing that puts my wife off...oh and going past 18 metres...lol.

Are there any blue holes in Jamaica...I mean proper blue holes?

Best regards.

Graham
 

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Diving costs vary on Grand Bahama so you should expect to pay between $22 and $30 per dive depending who you dive with. There are a few operators on the island, UNEXSO, GRAND BAHAMA SCUBA, ODYSEA DIVERS, ZANADU DIVERS.

Because we treat this as a holiday with diving, two dives a day Monday to Friday leaves the afternoon free to explore, sunbath, drink, visit some of the most fantastic beaches you will ecver see, snorkel or shop. Whatever you want to do really.

With only a metre high tide, there are few currents of note except near to the edge of the ledge (3,000 ft) but British trained divers should not have a problem with that. simply obey the dive guide's instructions and use the ropes provided to get you to the buoy line - all sites are buoyed!

There are caverns, but only licenced Bahamian instructors are permitted to take visiting divers. Check out Shammy Rolle, excellent diver and guide. We were fortunate enough to do a cavern dive with the legendary Ben Rose who found "Ben's Cave" in the Lucayan national park./  We did an eighty minute cavern dive which was simply amazing, although the cost then (about 4 years ago) was about $100 dollars each including tanks and weights.

Regards

Geoff
 

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Oh, forgot to mention I took 16 people with me.

The diving depths are variable, the deepest being 3,000ft, although can't imagine why you'd want to be there intentionally. Thoes wreck is in about 32 mtrs, Sea Star in about 28 mtrs with most of the other wrecks and reefs variable from 4 - 25 mtrs with the option of going deeper or shallower as you wish. Doing more than 3 dives in the day on a two week holiday is not something I would personally recommend on Grand Bahama. There is no longer a chamber on the island and evn doing the diving we we were doing (two dives a day), by Thursday, Friday our residual nitrogen levels were getting quite high.

The marine life is, well, spectacular, with plenty of big stuff - Carribbean reef sharks, big grouper, green moray, snapper, rays, occasional manta, parrot fish plus loads of small colourful fish and marine growth. Coral abounds and the coral caves are a dream to swim through.

Geoff
 
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